Second Hand Hardware: Yes or No?

As the demand for gaming-grade graphics cards have now reached an incredibly negative high, with supply and pricing making it rather difficult for gamers to make a valuable purchase, many have considered buying used graphics cards as an alternative. While this may seem like a good idea in theory, as it can mean lower prices and easier accessibility, there are negative aspects to this, such as the current series of graphics cards from both AMD and NVIDIA possibly being used for the purposes of Cryptocurrency mining, now unusable thanks to the extreme demands of performance required for mining.

The graphics card market may be in a terrible state, with the PC Mustard Race now up in arms calling all PC gamers to the front line to man the war with Gigahertz rifles and CUDA Core canons, but this current state of affairs cannot last forever. And GPU pricing and availability will return to normal. With that being said, the buying of used hardware isn’t necessarily bad nor good, but for those deciding whether or not it’s worth the possible hassle, a little advice could go along way. This guide will provide some insight into the buying of used hardware, and what you should or shouldn’t do while looking for the best offer on components.

It is worth noting however, that any popular E-tailer selling used or manufacture refurbished products can be trusted, so long as warranty is provided – as it should be.

Graphics Cards
When you’re looking to purchase used GPUs it’s best to assess any and all pictures of the product thoroughly. While the obvious indicators would include dust build-up, a bent PCB, a damaged cooler or slanted rear display connections, any signs of bent, bulging or missing capacitors or MOSFETS can indicate a malfunctioned or possibly dead card. These are far more serious as they affect the card’s ability to deliver and regulate power.

Other aspects such as water damage are noticeable by faded colours or white stains, while a stained-black PCB may be signs of a heavily overclocked card which has now ceased to function due to overvolting, with the PCB burned as a result. Other symptoms of a badly functioning graphics card may include artifacting and on-screen glitches, system shut-downs, intrusively loud fan-noises, driver crashes, and high temperatures.

Burned PCIe Connector

If you’re currently using a graphics card that’s in the low-end or mid-range criteria, it’s best to purchase a GPU of the prior generation which was considered a high-end product. This should provide similar performance to the higher performing cards of the current generation. It’s also best to inspect the product for signs of a bent PCIe connection, as well as the PCIe 8-Pin and 6-Pin power ports, as failure of these connections will not allow the card to receive power at all. If possible, try to receive the original box and packaging material, with access to the manufacturers warranty if transferable.

To put it nicely, don’t. Unless the seller in question has received nothing but positive reviews and provides some form of cover or return policy, whereby his or her reputation is of high praise, don’t even think about purchasing a used motherboard. While each and every aspect of used graphics cards can be applied to motherboards, the motherboard holds greater importance in this respect as each and every piece of hardware will either receive or send power through it, relying upon it for optimal use.

PCB Burns

Should the motherboard fail in anyway, data loss and component malfunctioning may be the end result of connected hardware. While small aspects of a used graphics card can be fixed or repaired, such as the heatsink, shroud or fan, those on a motherboard such as the PCIe brackets, heatsinks, SATA ports, DRAM slots, and CPU socket cannot be fixed, meaning the motherboard will be largely unusable for a great number of people.

Power Supplies
A strict no. Just don’t do it. As the most important component of any system, the PSU delivers, converts, and regulates power in order to provide each and every component inside the PC with the right amount of voltage as called upon by system tasks, with safety being the most importance. When shopping for a PSU, one should always purchase a model with an 80 Plus rating. This means the PSU has been certified for safe operation rated as either Bronze, Silver, Gold, White or Titanium.

Reliable 80 Plus Gold Rated Power Supply

Each rating signifies a higher and constant delivery of power with greater efficiency and a greater lifespan. Buying a PSU without this label can damage or even kill system components. Using a second hand PSU which does have an 80 Plus rating could be a sign of a product which may have been dead-on-arrival, or be at the fault of alternative means such as physical damage or heavily and immature overclocking, which has now caused a strain on the PSU. Always purchase a PSU brand new. Second-hand is never recommended.

Processors are often subject to hit and miss when being bought as a second-hand product. While the lifespan of a CPU is exceptionally longer than most components, they’re also difficult to judge as they don’t typically show signs of possible faults. While an AMD processor can be judged for damage by examining the pins on the underside of the CPU, which shouldn’t be purchased if so, Intel processors can’t be accessed in this way. Intel CPUs contain contact pads which form discoloration when damaged.

Bent CPU Pins

A few things that should be taken notice of whether that’s AMD or Intel, would be burns or water damage to either side of the CPU. Burns are a sign of a heavily overclocked CPU, while water damage can be seen as colour stains, faded from the original colour of the CPU. As all CPUs contain text on the processor’s shield, indicating the make, model, and clock speed, the wear and tear of this text will also be a sign as to how much the product has been used. Take precaution when deciding to purchase a second-hand CPU. And always look through each picture carefully, and ask for more if needed.

As the most popular component known for failure from used purchases, storage drives, HDDs to a greater extent, are by no means advisable for second-hand use. As HDD’s contain many physical moving parts, they are prone to damage from shock, vibration and falls, which can lead to prolonged failure as time goes on, as well as instant death if damaged. SSDs drives may not contain any moving parts, and are by far a great deal more durable than standard HDDs, but due to the nature of flash memory chips which form the basis of the SSD technology, any issues relating to data corruption or actual physical damage such as power surges and damaged data connections are also a possibility. Because of such reasons, it’s not worth the hassle and risk. The same can also be applied to the purchasing of system memory which shares the same technology as SSDs.

Water Damaged HDD


For further explanation and advice on components and games, we are happy to discuss this on TwitterFor more guides on components such as setup, how to’s, and performance, please see are guides area: Dino How To’s

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